McGregor vs. Poirier staredown

If you’re not a hardcore mixed martial arts fan, you might be wondering why the UFC 257 headliner between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier is not for the lightweight title.

The pair’s lightweight bout will headline the pay-per-view event taking place Saturday night which is exclusive to the ESPN+ digital streaming service and can be ordered here.

However, there is no lightweight title on the line despite current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announcing his retirement at UFC 254 back in October.

That’s because Nurmagomedov is in more of a quasi-retirement with UFC president Dana White claiming he would return if a lightweight contender impressed him.

Of course, Nurmagomedov’s current status is a bit more complex than that as he would later go on to contradict White’s claims by stating he had no interest in fighting.

Regardless of the situation, Nurmagomedov is still lightweight champion for now, which means McGregor vs. Poirier can’t be for the strap anyhow.

However, even if “The Eagle” did retire, the plan was for a sort of lightweight mini tournament with the winner of the UFC 257 headliner going on to face the top-ranked fighter in the division.

“If Khabib does retire, then whoever the highest-ranked guy is at the time will end up facing Conor if Conor beats Poirier and would end up fighting for the title, I’m sure,” White said in a recent interview with ESPN before his meeting with Nurmagomedov.

As far as McGregor is concerned, Nurmagomedov is retired and he expects to fight for the belt if he gets the win over Poirier. He can even understand why he wouldn’t get an instant title shot upon his return given how rocky things were with him and White last year.

“I don’t think Dana is going to throw me a belt with the way the year went,” McGregor said. “… The belts will come. I think maybe the next bout is fair. I would have to liked to see it this fight, but there were circumstances surrounding the man [Nurmagomedov] scurrying away to an extent. They have given him a bit of time.

“We’ll see what happens. It’s of no odds to me. I am not gonna get caught up in the politics of this business. I have in the past and it has hampered me. So, we focus on the bout ahead, and that’s it.”

In that scenario, the only question would be who would be deserving to face the winner of the UFC 257 headliner? The winner of the co-main event between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler? Or perhaps a certain Charles Oliveira.

UFC 257 streams live this Saturday, January 23, on the ESPN+ digital streaming service. Here’s how to order and watch the Poirier vs. McGregor PPV on ESPN+.

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